Calling all entrepreneurs and business owners. The Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce will host its third annual Aitkin Tour of Opportunities.
The two-day event will be held on Friday, April 30 from 4-7 p.m. and Saturday, May 1, from 11 a.m.-2 p.m. at the Butler Building in downtown Aitkin.
Community members are invited to stop in and speak with experts about everything from business plans to real estate to marketing.
“Our goal is to give people resources for tools to start and grow their businesses,” said Taylor Erickson, the executive director of Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce. “We have a lot of entrepreneurs here in town who have ideas but haven’t been able to turn those ideas into a business yet.”
Several local and regional businesses and organizations will be in attendance, including the Aitkin Economic Development Authority, Mid-Minnesota Federal Credit Union and Security State Bank.
The Small Business Development Center will be there for anyone who needs expertise in creating and writing a business plan. Iron Range Resources and Rehabilitation will provide information about grants for people starting their own business.
“There are a lot of grants available,” Erickson said, but also some hurdles. “We want to make it easy for would-be entrepreneurs, so there are no surprises, like certain permits or licenses that they have to obtain.”
This is a relatively new event for the Aitkin Area Chamber of Commerce. The inaugural Tour of Opportunities was held in 2019.
“All these organizations are coming and providing services for free,” Erickson said. “They’re doing it because they want to support our region and our area, which we are really thankful for.”
When asked who should attend the Tour of Opportunities, Mark Jeffers, the executive director of Aitkin Growth Inc., said: “Anyone who has the dream of owning and operating their own business, or anyone who owns a business and may be interested in relocating to our beautiful region.” The event is also for “existing local business owners who want to learn more about the resources available to help them improve their profitability.”
COVID-19 protocols will be in place at the event. All attendees will need to wear a mask and practice social distancing. Tables will be adequately spaced to make sure there is enough room for people to distance themselves.
“It’s kind of like a revolving door of people coming in and out, so there’s really no bottlenecking or big crowds at any one time, said Erickson. “Based off of the 2019 event, there are never more than a couple of guests in the building at one time.”
Anyone who wishes to attend should go directly to the Butler Building and sign in on the main floor. Attendees will be given a packet with all the necessary information, including property listings that are exclusive to the event.